1.4 Billion Starving People and Countingbio1
December 22nd, 2009
We wish for all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
In this newsletter we will continue to discuss some of the key points from Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez’s (Executive Director of Food First) talk given in Seattle on November 30, 2009—and in particular, how we can truly end hunger in our world!
When we started the newsletter series back in September of 2008, the numbers of starving people in the world were said to be at around 800 million. Recently, as Eric informed us in his lecture, the World Bank’s 2009 calculations determined the number to be at 1.4 billion!!!
Last week we learned that the source of our starvation problem must be placed at the feet of the corporate food regime—the consortium that controls our modern food system worldwide. The corporate food regime is defined by Dr. Holt-Gimenez as “all of the institutions and all of the rules that control our food from farm to fork—the WTO, the USDA, the World Bank, the IMF, the FAO. They set the rules that control our food. On top of that you have the transnational corporations who tell the institutions what rules they need—Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bunge, Wall Mart, Tesco, Safeway and the rest of the agro-industrialized complex.” Lets remember that all these entities emanate from the Global North in collusion with the US and European governments. Through their grand agendas such as the Green Revolution that began in the 60s to the present with the Second Green Revolution (AGRA), the peasantry of the Global South has been bowled over, driven into poverty and starvation.
Dr. Holt-Gimenez shared with us that when he went down to South America ten years ago, he found groups of peasants who were fighting back. They weren’t sitting around passively as the corporate food system destroyed their livelihood and their food system. He worked with a group call Campesino a Campesino—a movement of farmer helping farmer to regain their old way of sustainable agriculture as taught through the modern scientific principles of Agroecology. (Both Dohrea and I have written about this group, so we were happy to hear more good news in regard to their work!)
Agroecology is the alternative to the Green revolution. As a last ditch effort the peasant farmers decided to give sustainable agriculture another try. They revived their traditional systems and improved upon them through small-scale experimentation using modern agro-ecological farming methods. It worked and spread throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba where it really took off. Then it moved into Africa, Asia and Indonesia. Peasants in the South are now reclaiming their land, employing sustainable organic agricultural techniques, feeding their families and setting up farmers markets. The question is whether it can work on a larger scale to feed the billions. The answer is that it can.
Eric explains: “When I went to South America the farmers had been on the tread mill of the Green Revolution with the pesticides and the herbicide and the chemical fertilizers for about 10 years. And, they were broke. Their yields were decreasing each year and they had destroyed the soil and they needed to use more and more of herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers.
They produced about a ton of corn per hector. That is very low. The average around the world is about three, and in the US if you pump it up, is about ten. When the Global South farmers switched over to sustainable agriculture and added organic material to their soil and conserved the rainwater so it didn’t run down the hill in the gullies, they immediately saw increases of production of 100, 200 and 300%. We now have some of the driest places in Mexico under sustainable technology producing five tons. See our June 17th Newsletter on Permaculture- click on the video clips, they are amazing.
So what is this myth that sustainable agriculture produces less? It comes from our country. It comes from us because in the US we make the land over-produce by pumping it full of fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides and water. It produces more than the actual capacity of the land. If you take away all the artificial ingredients you will drop from 7 or 8 tons to the natural carrying capacity of the land which is 4 or 5 tons.”
Eric asserts that in the Global North you get a drop in production when you take away the inputs (chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides), but in the Global South it is the opposite. You get an increase in production when you take the inputs away. This is where it counts because the Global South is where most of the farmers are and they produce one-half of the world’s food. If you want to double the amount of food produced, go sustainable in the South. Eric maintains you could double production with the billion farmers in the South in one year by going sustainable and organic. It is where our hope lies.
In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, 300 examples were looked at—comparing sustainable agriculture to conventional agriculture around the world. They found that organic agriculture could feed the world easily now, and continue on twenty years from now as population grows. Particularly because of the advantages it has in the Global South where you get tremendous increases by shifting over to sustainable agriculture.
The United Nations carried out a study in Africa and found the same thing: there was improvement on traditional agriculture that used organic materials. They got 100s of folds increases in yields. Organic agriculture lowers costs and invigorates local economies. They also found that villages that practiced organic sustainable agriculture had healthier economies. Creating sustainable local agriculture is the first step into creating sustainable local businesses, ending poverty and ending hunger. This is the good new.
In his concluding remarks Dr. Holt-Gimenez reminded us that the regime controlling our present food system is very powerful and to change the policies of such a force require nothing short of a rising up of the people, saying we won’t take what we are being served anymore. When populations become uncontrollable governments will change. The peasant movement now has over a billion members throughout the world, mostly in the Global South. We in the North need to see how we can form coalitions, to join the cause, to end hunger through organic sustainable farming. Our holistic medical community should be on the frontline of such a movement. Don’t you agree? Why don’t we each make it part of our New Years Resolution to in some way get involved with this cause.
Blessings to you all,
This past week I have been dialoging with you regarding the placement of the bullet points for our “Therapeutic Foods at a glance page. Some changes were made. More will come. Therapeutic Foods Systemic Support.